Art for Peace Festival – Somaliland – September 17th and 18th 2014

After months of work, we’re proud to say the 2nd Art for Peace Festival in Hargeisa, Somaliland was a great success. The two day event brought Somalis of all ages to the event to see exhibitions of art promoting the themes of peace and tolerance, to watch live theatre and see live music performances. They also had the chance to listen to TED style talks and attend theatre workshops. Funding came from IREX Europe, KOW Media, IREX, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and from contributors to our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

IREX Europe Director Mike de Villiers arrived in Hargeisa September 14th 2014 and met up with our local partner KOW Media to help with the final preparations. See IREX Europe’s video of KMC staff talking about preparations for the Festival and of the importance of this event for Somalilander artists.

The first day of the Festival started off with Somaliland’s most famous singer Sahra Halgan speaking at the event. The Geediga Nabada Peace Caravan were also present and honoured the audience with live performances. Sahra Halgan is a Somalilander singer who has recently returned to Somaliland after 20 years of living as a political refugee in Lyon, France. Lyon is of course also where IREX Europe is based.

A live art painting competition was also organised with participants having to complete their work ready for judging the afternoon of the second day.

The second day of the Festival saw the live art painting competition continue, with bright colours and Somaliland flags.

The Live Art Competition theme was peace and reconciliation. It was a ‘people’s choice’ award. Votes were cast by secret ballot, with the audience choosing their favourite artwork and putting the artwork’s assigned number on a stamped voting slip. Volunteers then conducted the counting of the ballots. This simple voting process was a great lesson in transparent democracy for all Festival goers and we were delighted to see the audience participate in such an active way.

The judges for the other categories were Sahra Halgan, IREX Europe Director Mike de Villiers, Ahmed Suleiman Bide (leading Somaliland poet and writer) and film makers Heinrich Geuther and Raphael Sola Ferrer.

An acting workshop was held by Gede from the Geediga Nabada Peace Caravan and Festival participants were also able to attend TED style talks delivered by IREX Europe Director Mike de Villiers, Bahja Mohamed Dualle, winner of the Live Art Competition, and the fimmakers Heinrich and Raphael on film, photo and story-telling.

The Festival was a great success and was enjoyed by all the Somalilanders who attended. Feedback has been very positive with a lot of postings on Twitter under the feed #ArtforPeaceFestival. Two very emotional moments struck the Festival team – the winner of the Film Competition Hassan was moved to tears when he won in the Film category. Bahja, first prize winner of the Live Art Competition was also delighted and deeply moved – and very proud to be a female winner by popular vote.

The winners are:

- Hassan Ibrahim Noor, First Prize in the Art category

- Abdullah Omar Mohamed, First Prize in the Photo category

- Hassan Ahmed Abdi, First Prize in the Film category with his film ‘Dibta Dagaalka’ (The Struggles of War)

- Bahja Mohamed Dualle won first prize in the people’s choice competition, receiving her prize from Sahra Halgan.

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Festival banners and posters around Hargeisa

Sahra Halgan speaking at the Festival.

The Geediga Nabada Peace Caravan performing live at the Festival

Visitors to the festival spent a lot of time discussing the messages behind each of the paintings and photos.

Voting for people’s choice award

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